Welcome to June when we celebrate Great Outdoors Month! Great Outdoors Month encourages us to explore all that nature has to offer. This month is dedicated to our country’s unique and diverse landscapes including the lakes and rivers, the forests and the mountains. We are surrounded by so much beauty and yet in our technology-filled culture and fast-paced lifestyles, we often forget to absorb the gifts that abound just outside our door. In turn, this reality has left many of us drained of energy. Making an effort to visit and explore the great outdoors again may be just the medicine we need for a new lease on life, both mentally and physically. (Great Outdoors Month – June 2023, n.d.)
It may seem obvious that taking the time to relish in the beauty of nature would be beneficial to our health, but it’s not just the sights of nature, it’s the sounds as well. Research has shown that the sounds of nature have profound well-being benefits. In 2019, Scientific Reports found that people who spent just two hours per week outside in a natural setting (including town parks, state parks, woodlands, and beaches) reported greater well-being compared with people who spent less time outdoors. Another study simply reviewed the effects of nature sounds on health (including thunder, wind, insects, frogs and birds). Recordings were played in lab settings in 11 countries and participants reported decreased pain, improved mood and even performed better on cognitive tests. Water sounds--think bubbling brooks or steady waterfalls-- were most effective at generating a positive outlook or disposition while bird sounds were best for lowering stress. (Millard, 2021)
Exposure to natural environments has been found to improve our working memory, cognitive function and attentional control, but the question is why? What is it about nature that it can both soothe and regenerate us? There are a few theories that have been proposed to explain our inherent connection to nature. One theory is the biophilia hypothesis which argues that since our ancestors evolved in wild settings and relied on the environment for survival, we have an innate drive to connect with nature. The stress reduction hypothesis suggests that spending time in nature triggers a physiological response that lowers stress levels. A third idea, attention restoration theory, holds that nature replenishes one’s cognitive resources, restoring the ability to concentrate and pay attention. (Weir, 2020)
Many of us loved playing outside until the streetlights came on as children, and now it’s hard to motivate us to even take a stroll after dinner. So, this month I am going to ask you to pause your current Netflix binge or take a break from Candy Crush or your NY Times crossword puzzle. Put on your sneakers and explore the great outdoors. Tycor’s Nature Calling Challenge is all about celebrating nature and its benefits on our emotional and mental well-being. And bonus, it’s free-no gym membership required! For the entire month of June, try to spend two hours total outdoors each week. Pick your ideal setting, whether it be a daily walk after lunch at the trail near your job, an early morning jog in your neighborhood or maybe an afternoon sitting in a beach chair with your toes in the water watching waves crash at the beach. You choose your setting. You reap the benefits. But hurry, nature is calling!
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Great Outdoors Month – June 2023. (n.d.). Retrieved from nationaltoday.com: https://nationaltoday.com/great-outdoors-month/
Millard, E. (2021, April 9). Why the Sounds of Nature Are So Good for Health and Well-Being. Retrieved from everydayhealth.com: https://www.everydayhealth.com/self-care/why-the-sounds-of-nature-are-so-good-for-health-and-wellbeing/
Weir, K. (2020, April 1). Nurtured by nature. Retrieved from www.apa.org: https://www.apa.org/monitor/2020/04/nurtured-nature